Andy Reid is headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2004 season, and it sounds as if he'll have legions of supporters following him.
Reid's Kansas City Chiefs did what they couldn't do last January: get the job done. Kansas City overcame another early deficit to run away with a 35-24 win over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game, securing the team's first berth in the sport's biggest game in 50 years a year after falling painfully short against New England.
There's a long list of those who are incredibly happy for him.
"It's everything," Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said of getting Reid back to the Super Bowl. "He's given, not just me, but so many people an opportunity in this league. When I first started out he believed in me and it motivates me to bust my tail every day and emulate his work ethic. It means the world. That's why we know we are not done yet. We have one more game to go."
The mustachioed coach who rose from Packers offensive assistant to Philadelphia Eagles head coach in 1999 had to wait a decade and a half to make a return trip to the place where his Eagles fell painfully short to the league's dynasty of this century. Few believed the 2004 run to Jacksonville would be the Eagles' last trip under Reid, and even though Philadelphia remained a contender for the majority of his time with the team, they never again quite got over the hump to play for the Lombardi during his tenure.
"Look, any time you are having a tough season, it is hard to envision playing in the Super Bowl, but things changed for us seven years ago when we were lucky enough to lure Andy Reid and his wife, Tammy, to Kansas City," Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. "It has been a building process ever since then. He came in day one and we started winning games. We reeled off nine straight wins for the start of the Andy Reid tenure here in Kanas City. He got us to the championship game last year.
"We really felt like going into the season that we had a great opportunity to get back and really the credit goes to Andy, his coaching staff, our entire football operations department and also Mark Donovan, our president and his great staff. Those three groups really work well together, and we are fortunate because not every NFL team is like that, but we have three great leaders running our franchise and the three of them really deserve the credit for getting us here today."
It's a little special, too, because the AFC championship named after Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt now resides in Kansas City. The reality didn't seem like a possibility back in early 2013 when Hunt's son, Clark, was in pursuit of Reid.
It is now a reality, though, thanks to Reid's Chiefs, who embody their coach with their never-say-die attitude.
"Listen, first of all, I'm so happy for the Hunt Family and bringing that trophy back here. Wow," Reid said. "How great is that, (cheering) that's right. I'm proud of our team for the effort they showed today. 'Never die' is kind of their thing. I mean getting behind like this is tough on an old guy, but they did a nice job coming back.
"Again, fired up. Fired up to go to Miami. I need to get on a diet so I can fit in my clothes and we can go do our thing. Very proud, very proud of everybody and the job that they did. The coaches, the coordinators for the plan that they had. EB (offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy) talked to the team last night and got them all fired up. EB's been there as a player and a coach. I thought he had some real great words for the players and coaches for that matter. The guys came out and played with a ton of energy. They had a few ups and downs there early. We were able to overcome those and get ourselves going in the right direction. Anyways. The fans were phenomenal. That thing out there right now, unbelievable. It was very good."
Reid's Chiefs are filled with players who have remained hungry for a chance to play for the most important trophy in American sports. Safety Tyrann Mathieu, for one, had to make it to his third team in seven seasons for a chance to contend for a conference title. Thanks to the contributions of he and many others in red and white, Kansas City -- a participant in the game's first Super Bowl way back in January 1967 -- is back on the game's biggest stage during the league's 100th season.
Even in a moment of football-driven euphoria, Mathieu was thinking about the sideline-patrolling leader of his team.
"I'm so happy for Coach Reid," Mathieu said. "I say it all the time, but you think about his coaching tree. You think about all of the guys that he's made into head coaches. A lot of guys that he's really given opportunities to, especially minorities. You think about the players that have come up under him and their Hall of Fame-caliber. I think he's a great coach and he's all about his players and the team. Most importantly, he allows us to be ourselves. He's not restricting us from our personalities, and I think that has a lot to do with us fighting through adversity and believing in ourselves. That's committing to each other and playing hard week in and week out."
They'll have a chance to give their full effort for each other, and their 61-year-old coach, one last time in the same state in which Reid last reached the Super Bowl. We'll soon learn whether he can secure his second title -- and first as a head coach -- when the Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers in Miami.